Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 2

"So you must be Miss Havisham's driver.  Do come in" said Rose.  "I believe Elizabeth is just saying good-bye to her mother, I'm sure she won't be long.   She's so looking forward to her time at Havisham Hall..."
Just then, footsteps could be heard from inside the house - first Mrs Swanson's soft careful steps, then the clacking of poor Jack's high heels as the delicate, nervous teenager reluctantly followed his mother out towards the front door, dressed up to the nines like a young secretary on her way to her first job interview in a smart city office.
But Jack was not on his way to any office - he was about to be whisked away, in his transparent peach bow blouse (clearly showing off the intricate lace on his expensive bra) and his soft, taffeta pleated skirt, to spend a whole two weeks at the country house of this strange, and evidently very rich, Miss Havisham.
How Jack wished his mother was not going away right now.  Surely she could have delayed her meetings with the drama school architects for a week or two, so that he could get back to some sort of normality without being constantly forced into feminine finery and lace lingerie over the dreaded breastforms which Rose had again affixed to his chest - this time, he felt sure, with an additional application of the adhesive which was so difficult to remove.
Yes, he realized that Miss Havisham had liked him so much when they met recently at Mrs Quinn's, that she couldn't wait to have him come and stay with her, and start grooming him as her personal assistant and companion.  But Miss Havisham was not his mother, and, however much she doted on him, it was never going to be anything like being at home.
"Now make sure you're good while I'm away", his mother was saying, while Miss Havisham's rather impatient driver was picking up the luggage.  "Oh thank you, yes" said Mrs Swanson, "yes, that is his, I mean her case, yes that's all I think, just her purse - yes, you've got that haven't you... er, Elizabeth.  Yes, please make sure you do everything you can to help, it's so kind of Miss Havisham to have you - and at such short notice too."
Gail Swanson held her feminised son for a few tender moments, giving him the kind of gentle, lingering embrace known only to loving mothers and daughters.  Then, with tears on both their cheeks, Jack stepped reluctantly away and made for the limousine.
"No, not in the back, Elizabeth" called out the driver, "you come in the front beside me."   And, as she drove away, "we can't have our new maid arrive at the Hall as though she's one of Madam's personal friends, now can we?"

"New maid?" said a startled Jack.  "Surely you know I've been asked to join Miss Havisham as her personal companion."
"No, I think not, young lady.  That's what Madam says to all the bright young things she invites to join her household.  And by the way, my name is Miss Rodriguez, and you'll meet all the other domestic staff tonight when you all sit down for your evening meal in the kitchen.  I won't be joining you tonight as I will have to take Madam straight out to her friends for their bridge evening.  We're already running late so I'll drop you at the staff entrance as soon as we arrive at the Hall."
Jack, now almost moved to tears again, was silenced by this response.   Surely they wouldn't take him into the kitchen to become one of the maids - he was supposed to be visiting Miss Havisham personally, to become her assistant.
"I don't know what position they've arranged for you" Miss Rodriguez continued "but I'm sure it will be something menial to start with."    She glanced across at the beautifully attired young lady.  "And you won't be needing those posh clothes here, that's for sure - except perhaps for going home in at Christmas and Easter, if you're allowed home, that is."
This was getting worse and worse for Jack.   Fighting back more tears, he said "But I'm only here for two weeks Miss, to live with Miss Havisham.  I think there's been a dreadful misunderstanding."
"No, my dear, no misunderstandings.  All our housemaids are recruited personally by Madam and told they'll become her personal companion, but you all have to start as maids.  Mind you, they're not all as pretty as you - if you shape up well, and obey all the rules, I guess you'll make it into Madam's own little circle after a few months.
"Rules?"   Jack wondered what was coming next.   Was he back at school again?   This really was becoming a nightmare.
"Oh, mainly just things like the dress code, the servants etiquette and pecking order, punctuality and so on."   Madam prides herself on having immaculate household staff, everybody keeping their uniform spotless and in pristine condition at all times.   You'll enjoy it, you wait and see, I only get to wear these outdoor things but you maids - you all look a picture in your beautiful taffeta dresses and aprons - and those sweet little frilly caps.   Quite a picture."
"And by the way" she went on. "Don't ever let anyone hear you referring to Madam by her name.  Only Miss Craftey, the housekeeper, is allowed that privilege, and she's been here since Madam was a girl.  No, to you, and all the other maids, Madam is Madam, whenever you have reason to refer to her for some reason."
Jack fell totally silent again and, for the rest of the journey, was left pondering his fate.   After a few more minutes, Jack noticed a discreet sign, saying simply "Havisham Hall" - typically understated in the manner of the English aristocracy.   They took a turn leading down the mile-long drive, straight to the staff entrance.  This, Jack noticed, was called "Tradesmen's Entrance".  
"Now, here we are, Elizabeth.  I'm running very late for Madam, so I'll leave you to jump out as soon as we come to a halt and then I can drive straight round for Madam."
With that, Miss Havisham's favourite limousine came to a screeching halt, right outside the staff entrance, and Jack was obliged to disembark hastily.   "Just ring the bell and someone will let you in" called Miss Rodriguez to him, as she sped off towards the Hall's imposing main entrance.
Only then did Jack realise he had left his case in the back of the limousine.  He pushed the bell, wondering to himself whether things could get any worse for him.  He was about to discover they could.

(to be continued)

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it's going to be a lovely story, cant wait to see what happens when Jack meets all the other servants and when Madam notices him for the first time. I hope he is able to keep his little secret from the other maids!

Anonymous said...

This is so nice please keep going with this episode X

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to LG for successfully bridging the gap between "Amongst Women" to the newly formed "Heroine of Havisham Hall." The transition of Elizabeth (Jack) to her (his) new life seems to be underway. Despite her reluctance to be a maid, surely at some point she must be made to realise that a life spent in relative servitude to real women is her true destiny. I look forward to the ongoing development of this story. A suggestion......
"Elizabeth" is too posh a name for a maid. Betty or just plain Lizzie would be more appropriate. Keep up the good work LG.

L.G. said...

Thank you, all three of you, for your anon comments. I am new to being a contributor to this site and am pleased I am adding something to your enjoyment of this story. Thank you especially for the suggestion regarding a suitable name for our hero(ine) - all I can say to that is "watch this space". The next episode will follow next week if all goes well. Have fun, L.G.

rocketdave said...

Hmm, there wasn't any mention of what specific position Miss Havisham had in mind for him in the previous chapter, so I'm not sure where Jack got the idea that he was intended to be her personal assistant or companion.

In any case, assuming for the moment that Madam seriously intends to keep Jack on as a full time maid, I can't help wondering what Mrs. Quinn would have to say about that, given the interest she's shown in the boy- not to mention his own mother's thoughts on the matter. He still has a few years of school left, after all. I'm interested in seeing how much "worse" things can get for our "heroine."

Anonymous said...

I love this story, cannot wait to see what happens next for Jack/Elizabeth

L.G. said...

Rocketdave, thanks for your comments which I'm sure are intended to be helpful. The issue of Jack/Elizabeth's status will, I hope, become clearer during the coming episodes. I don't want to give too much away at this stage, but do bear in mind that, as far as Gloria Havisham is concerned, she regards "Elizabeth" as a kind of surrogate daughter (and son!) in the Quinn household, not as a servant. That is how Jack was introduced to her and the other ladies.
In the class-conscious era to which this whole saga seemingly belongs, I cannot imagine Miss Havisham insulting her friend Emily Quinn by implying that she would welcome her lovely daughter "Elizabeth" into her household in anything other than "family" status.

Anonymous said...

Please keep this story running, it sounds like it will be a very two weeks for "Elizabeth".
Love from Maid Marcia x

Anonymous said...

Sorry I mean to say very interesting two weeks x

Carrie P said...

Hi LG
A really good follow- up to part one. It seems Jack is barely coming to terms with his return to skirts before he is hit with another blow. Much as he hates it he probably could just about live with being dressed as a girl but being informed his position will not be as a companion but as a maid must surely have had a devastating impact on his already low morale and Miss Rodriguez has certainly impressed on him the strict regimen into which he is being delivered. Will be interesting to see how he copes with his new circumstances and how the characters develop. You have set it up nicely for future chapters. We're all looking forward to it.
Carrie

Anonymous said...

Just loving this story, please keep this going, I keep thinking this is like Downton Abbey, only much more fun! I expect there will be more suprises in store for Jack when he gets let into the house.

Anonymous said...

Dear LG. This story sounds like it could run and run, howmany episodes are you planning for this Havisham Hall strand? Don't know what others think but to me it's nice that they seem to be coming quite often, even if they are quite short. Please keep it going along these lines. Anon.

Anonymous said...

Very nice story, this seems to be a different style from what's been before. I like the gradual introduction to whatever life holds for Jack, with his mother being away now and occupied with her new drama school project. How will he cope I wonder? Sounds like he will be "amongst women" once again and that he will be very vulnerable in his new surroundings. Looking forward to future instalments.

Anonymous said...

I like this story very much, seems to have lots of different possibilities for Jack. I look forward to seeing how he copes with life under Mrs Craftey's supervision!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Carrie P, and all you "Anons", for your kind comments.
I'm sorry not to have replied to earlier comments but I've been busy planning future episodes. I am hoping to keep publishing weekly with the possible exception of the Christmas and New Year festivities. Please watch this space!

L.G. said...

Sorry - last comment above should have been signed by me, L.G.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean we will not hear any more about Jack's exciting life? I hope not, that would be very sad.
Anon x

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